The complete poetical works and letters of John Keats/On the Sea

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Sent in a letter to Reynolds, dated April 17, 1817. 'From want of regular rest,' Keats says, 'I have been rather narvus, and the passage in Lear—"Do you not hear the sea?"—has haunted me intensely.' He then copies the sonnet, which was published in The Champion, August 17 of the same year. The letter was written from Carisbrooke. He had been sent away from London by his brothers a month before, shortly after the appearance of his first volume of Poems, and his letters show the nervous, restless condition into which he had been driven by that venture.

It keeps eternal whisperings around
Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
Gluts twice ten thousand caverns, till the spell
Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
Often 't is in such gentle temper found,
That scarcely will the very smallest shell
Be mov'd for days from where it sometime fell,
When last the winds of Heaven were unbound.
O ye! who have your eyeballs vex'd and tir'd,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
O ye! whose ears are dinn'd with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody,—
Sit ye near some old cavern's mouth, and brood
Until ye start, as if the sea-nymphs quired!